Note to Prospective Students

Joining Our Lab

I welcome applications from prospective students interested in community ecology and its interdigitation with population dynamics, ecosystem processes, and epidemiology. If you think that the Hall Lab might be a good place to train as an ecologist, I would ask you to please read over this document to learn more. (Consider also checking out my growing library of resources for grad students).

This page has four sections:

Contacting Me

I would first ask you to read a few papers to appreciate my research interests and the approach that I take to my science. Although I am broadly interested in community ecology and disease dynamics, I seem to have focused on two main ideas thus far. Students in the lab are welcome to consider different topics in their own research programs, but these papers demonstrate how I think through problems. Check out a couple of these:

Community ecology of disease:


Cáceres, Hall, et al. 2006 describes some motivating field patterns
Hall et al. 2006 links models with lab data to consider disease in a warmer world
Hall et al. 2005 explores dynamical implications of predators who selectively prey upon infected hosts

Stoichiometric food web theory:


Hall et al. 2006 explores new ways in which plant heterogeneity can shape community structure of grazers, using experimental data and models
Hall et al. 2005 links field observations, experiments, literature data, and models to document constraints on stoichiometric plasticity of plants

A common theme linking these papers:

I combine observations of natural systems and experimental data with models to make inferences about mechanisms in nature. This combination (observations, experiments, models) helps me to rigorously test logical, relevant ideas, and I think that interaction among these modes of inference yields powerful conclusions about nature. I am keen on training students who want to combine these approaches in their own work, or who are at least open-minded to linking the three.

Location:

I have been working extensively in lakes and ponds in Southern Indiana and near the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in southwest Michigan, although students in the Hall Lab can certainly work at other locations.

If you are still interested,

please send me an email (sprhall at indiana dot edu) telling me:
  1. what really interests you about ecology, and why community and/or disease ecology seem particularly interesting to you
  2. what kinds of experiences you've had to excite you about ecology and encourage you to apply to graduate school
  3. (sorry to ask, it won't matter much once you're here, but it helps with institutional issues) your numbers (GPA, GRE scores)

Lab and Training Philosophy

As an advisor, I am looking to help students grow into productive, creative, interative, independent young scientists. I feel like I can best succeed at the goal by:

Funding

Funding for students can come from a variety of sources - my own research grants, university and national fellowships, and instructional (teaching) assistantships through the department. Hunting for grant money is a crucial skill to master as a young scientist, and students will learn it right away in the Hall Lab by applying for fellowships and small grant awards.



Related Opportunities

At Indiana University

I would like to point out that IU offers a few opportunities for disease ecology and evolution that might interest students looking at the Hall lab or at me as a potential (co)advisor. The Daphnia Genome project, headed by Mike Lynch, is opening new frontiers to study ecological genomics using Daphnia (a major study organism in the Hall lab). In collaboration with others at IU (especially Mike Lynch and Curt Lively), it will become possible to conduct interdisciplinary study of ecological and evolutionary dynamics of disease, using Daphnia and its parasites, at the scale of molecules to species interactions and ecosystems. (More about Daphnia and its parasites can be found by reading Dieter Ebert's book).

Also, Curt Lively's lab group meets weekly with mine to discuss ongoing work on topics including disease ecology and evolution. Students can consider having Curt and I as co-advisors.